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Obama’s DOE conducts nuclear experiment

By Andrew Kishner

On Wednesday, September 15, the United States Department of Energy
conducted a subcritical nuclear explosive experiment under the NNSS
(Nevada National Security Site) facility in Nevada formerly known as
the Nevada Test Site. The subcritical test dubbed 'Bacchus' is the
24th such controversial 'almost' nuclear test whereby plutonium is
bombarded by conventional explosives, short of blowing it up. The
first subcritical test was conducted by the U.S. in 1997 and the most
recent was 2006. The DOE is expected to give a 48 hour notice to the
world community in advance of any full-scale subcritical test but it
does not appear that this precedent was followed, and rather was
completely disregarded. One Nevada activist group has indicated that
they were on a list to get 48-hour notices but never received one.

The DOE's subcritical testing program, which is part of its Stockpile
Stewardship program, is problematic because it is nearly impossible to
know if any country has indeed conducted a zero-yield subcritical test
or a very small yield nuclear blast. The reasons why subcritical tests
are problematic for all nations on Earth are because subcriticals are:

* conducted out of sight, so there would be no flash of light
detectable via satellite imagery
* involve such small amounts of plutonium, so a tiny 'pop' would be
too small to produce any seismic effect
* occur at deep depths, at about 1,000 feet underground, so
radioactive hot gases would likely not reach the surface and wouldn't
be picked up by the radiation monitoring network of the Comprehensive
Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO).

Subcritical tests are currently generating suspicion and distrust
worldwide; each time the U.S. conducts a subcritical test, they fan
the flames of fear in other countries, whose interpretation is that
the U.S. is (still) testing and honing their nukes. Their logical
conclusion is that until they become nuclear, militarily they are
disadvantaged. It is unlikely that the CTBT-in-force (the CTBT won't
ban subcritical tests) will change anything and remedy any of the
problems the CTBT is designed to solve. After all, the current form of
the CTBT lacks any verification regime for these subcriticals,
although any signatory can request that international monitors visit
the country where a suspected test occurred. But an on-site visit by
international monitors may be too late by then (even if they can find
the subcritical testing enclave to verify claims). Suspicion of the
deliberate conduct of, or a technical error that led to an accidental
occurrence of, an underground nuclear test may force a resumption of
underground nuclear testing by one country or a slew of countries.

The CTBT is not comprehensive enough at preventing fear and distrust
from spiraling towards a nuclear arms race. Let's pretend that a
'rogue' nation starts preparing for a subcritical test - the
preparations as viewed by satellite for that subcritical test will end
up looking exactly like the preparations for a full-scale underground
nuclear test. This 'preparation' would create a global furor.

And, so, we return to 'Bacchus.' Why isn't 'Bacchus' now causing a
global furor? Is it because we 'trust' the nuclear weapons and nuclear
weapons development in the U.S. and not from North Korea or Iran?
Recall that neither of those two latter countries has ever used DU or
nuclear bombs on other nations, or poisoned their own people with
fallout under false assurances of 'There is No Danger.' Why is it that
'they' can't experiment underground but WE CAN? That adds new meaning
to Obama’s mantra ‘Yes, we can!’

It is my firm belief that subcritical tests are an extension of the
41-year-long nuclear testing program of the United States government
at the Nevada Test Site that began in 1951 and 'ended' in 1992. A
subcritical underground test - which I place in the same category as a
nuclear test - is a break of the underground testing ban and these
'nuclear' tests may signal to other CTBT signatories the U.S.'s
determination to not only keep its nuclear arsenal but one day resume
full-scale nuclear testing.

Action step:

I ask everyone concerned about these provocative subcritical tests to
bring awareness to and protest this most recent subcritical nuclear
test by observing an hour of silence everyday starting at 5:35 pm, the
time of the 'Bacchus' test held on Sept. 15, 2010.

If asked 'Why aren't you talking?,' you can write on a notepad that
you will conveniently carry around with you:
"I am observing an hour of silence to protest the U.S.'s subcritical
nuclear test 'Bacchus.'."

Also, visit to learn more and help push for legislation to
ban monies for subcritical and hydrodynamic nuclear testing.

Andrew Kishner is a downwinder activist and founder of, a grassroots organization that endeavors to slow and
ultimately reverse the tide of global corporate and governmental
suppression and cover-up of the environmental and health effects of
human-made radiation that now contaminates every place on Earth.


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